Neuroimaging Proves Useful in Predicting Treatment for Social Anxiety
Neuroimaging and Social Anxiety
Neuroimaging may aid psychiatrists in screening patients who suffer from social anxiety to see whether or not they would benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Neuroimaging is medical imaging that focuses on the brain. It helps to study the brain and how it works.2 With functional neuroimaging, images are generated in different sections of the brain as they light up and become active, also referred to as fMRI.2
Predicting CBT Outcome with Neuroimaging
Massachusetts Institutue of Technology McGovern Institute for Brain Research’s Postdoctoral Fellow Oliver Doehrmann, Ph.D., led the study that reached this conclusion.1 fMRI imaging was used on 39 patients who had social anxiety disorder (SAD) as they were shown various pictures of faces with either angry or neutral expressions.1 Why angry faces? According to Doehrmann, “Angry faces, relative to neutral faces, convey disapproval and are likely to evoke excessive fear responses and negative cognitions in patients with SAD.”1 CBT teaches patients how to regulate their responses to not evoke fear.1
Next, the 39 patients underwent 12 weeks of group-based CBT sessions.1 From how well they benefited in therapy, Doehrmann and colleagues matched their responses to the neuroimaging results.1 They found that the responses of the neuroimaging results did help them predict whether or not the patient would benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy.1 Patients who measured greater brain activation when shown photos of angry expressions had better results in CBT than those who measured greater brain activation in response to photos of neutral expressions.1
 Arehart-Treichel, Joan. “Imaging Helps Predict Anxiety Patients Who May Benefit From CBT.” Psychiatry Online. American Psychiatric Association, 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013. <http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsArticle.aspx?articleid=1567584>.
 Smith, S.E.. “What is Neuroimaging?.” wiseGEEK: clear answers for common questions. Conjecture Corporation, n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2013. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-neuroimaging.htm. neuroimaging.